HarperTorch, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-109859-0
Historical Romance, 1999
Well, I picked this book up because I thought the title Of Noble Birth has a nice ring to it. Plus the fact that hero believes the heroine to be his half-sister, well, I am intrigued at the manner the author would pull this one off without setting the Freudian warning bells off big time.
But after finishing this book, I can safely say the almost-incest thing is inconsequential. The hero discovers the real identity of the heroine soon enough. What this book offers is chases and more chases and then some more mother of all chases.
The action starts with the nurse of the Greystone household fleeing with the newly born and deformed heir after the father has tried to murder the baby. The Duke is a villainous scum who can’t bear to see his hated wife finally producing an heir only to discover than the heir has a deformed arm.
Then it’s the present (1854) and Alexandra is a seamstress trying to flee her abusive, drunkard father. In an attempt to collect money from a client gone awry (daddy shows up), she flees into a carriage, only to be mistaken for Lady Anne, daughter of the villianous Duke of Greystone (the same bad daddy above). She is kidnapped by the deformed baby now grown up, Nathaniel Kent. Nate wants revenge on his daddy and what better way, apart from pillaging Daddy beloved’s ship, than to kidnap Daddy’s beloved daughter? Besides, the Duke has captured one of Nate’s crew, and Nate wants to use “Anne” as a means of exchange of hostages.
Nate is creeped out at his attraction to his “half-sister”. But hey, that’s all drowned out in the rapid succession of pirate ship gunfights, rape attempts on Alexandra by villains, storms, falling overboard and almost drowning, more gunfights, knife-duels, prison break-ins and breakouts, bedside nursing, kidnappings, screamings, kickings… phew. And somehow Alexandra manages to find herself in bed throughout almost all the excitement. She is always chained, tied to, or nursing someone (or being nursed herself) – too bad there’s very little naughty shenanigans when she’s in bed. What’s in abundance is the action. Non-stop action to the point that the relationship and characterization of both Alexandra and Nate suffer very badly. I hardly know these two people, and every time they settle to talk, there’s bound to be an explosion/gunshot/someone running in screaming that enemy is nigh and Nate’s off running to be a superhero. And whenever one nasty calamity is over, someone will shout, “Cap’n! Over there! Enemy oncoming!”
It’s exhausting. And when really cartoony bad guys are added in, the whole story begins to read like a farce. I half expect Godzilla to come crashing through the roof of the church on the wedding day between Nate and Alexandra. Of perhaps an alien mothership bent on world conquest interrupting their honeymoon and zapping them to Planet Yogayondala where they can find more adventures.
While I really can’t say I find this book keeper material – too much action-driven stuff being crammed in here only destroy any elegance in the relationship between the two people – I must say I have a profound admiration for Nate’s stamina. So many physical activities and sustained injuries and he could still do it all night long. Wow!